Photo: Mack McCollum
I am so excited that you stumbled upon this site, as we kick off our first post. If you haven’t made it over to the “Who We Are” section, I want to elaborate a little about who I am and what exactly it is you are reading.
My name is Cara Shaye Walker, and I am a senior at the University of Alabama studying journalism while being a semi-avid blogger, but more importantly, I am a believer in Jesus Christ. God placed a burden on my heart to start a community blog in the spring of 2016, and in case you didn’t notice, that was about eight months ago.
I wish I could tell you the gap between having that idea to now is because it took me eight long months of hard work and diligence to get this place ready for you, but in the spirit of wanting these words to be full of honesty and truth, I’ll let you in on a terrible secret: I started working on this about three weeks ago.
I had a whole summer to plan this, to make it into a wonderful source of hope and joy in Christ for a community of believers and non-believers – but I just didn’t.
I didn’t know where to begin or how to approach this. I certainly didn’t know what God’s vision was for this or why in the world He thought I should be the one to do it, but I honestly didn’t even try to figure any of those things out.
Maybe it was just a silly idea. Maybe this just isn’t the time. Maybe it’s not what God wanted me to do. Maybe I’m scared.
Thought after thought jumped in my head every time I thought of doing this, doing anything really. I was stuck from the start because I didn’t understand what it means to take to that first step, and I let fear leave me so frozen I couldn’t even lift my foot enough to try moving forward.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine texted me one morning and asked if I had ever thought about creating some way for all of our friends to stay connected to each other and share our lives in one place, and eventually become a place for people we’ve never even met to join and share their own stories.
Actually yes, I thought, but I just haven’t obeyed the call to do that.
Well, more accurately I thought not this again, but it turned out to be just what I needed, a wake-up call from God in the form of conviction and encouragement from someone close to me.
Soon after that, I was flooded with other friends whom I’d passively shared the idea with stirring me towards this giant undertaking. You see, I have a lot of wonderful people around me. Some have been gifted immeasurably with the ability to write but every single one of them has been gifted with stories that are meant to be shared and seen.
And when I truly saw that community around me, supporting me and challenging me – that is when I finally understood what I wanted, or rather what God wanted me to do.
What better way to grow in the community that God has designed for us than being open with each other about where we are and where we are striving to be – all in a safe place to wrestle with and rest in those truths and God’s Word?
Here we are: The Dwelling Place.
Where once a week, a story will be told that I hope brings you comfort and conviction, hope and hard truths. My vision is that this community of readers and writers can grow so big that it reaches and connects us across the country and across the world. The thought of that terrifies me, dear friends, but I trust that with you lovely people by my side and God’s plan for this at the forefront, it will become all that He wants it to be.
So in the spirit of me somewhat reluctantly taking the steps to obeying God, our first month of articles will be about just that: obedience.
What does that look like to you?
What does that look like in your life right now?
I’ve already told you what that looks like for me right now – all of this. But as we dive in together into that looming word, obedience, I want to remind you of something I had grossly forgotten over the duration of those eight months of feet dragging: you don’t have to feel whole or perfect to walk towards what God wants.
You don’t have to hide yourself and wait until the right time or the right amount of self-assurance. You go, you say yes, you dive in and hand the rest over to Him.
You are beautiful and prepared and ready right now because God said so. Who are we to question His timing and His plan for us? He’s pretty hard to argue with, although I am always slightly inclined to try.
It may seem cliché to use the example of Peter stepping out of the boat onto the ocean with Jesus when we talk about obedience, but in this stormy season of my life, with waves tossing me around in what seems like every direction I turn, it’s the biggest thing that comes to my mind.
“When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”
I think a lot of the time we give Peter a lot of grief for what comes after these verses, where he looks away from Jesus and begins to sink, instead of giving him credit for taking that step out of the boat. Peter said yes to Jesus’ call with no hesitation and took a step onto the open ocean, even if he wasn’t completely ready. In the end, Jesus was in control the whole time – He just wanted Peter to have the courage and the obedience to come to Him.
Gosh, the rest of God’s Word is filled with stories just like that, of people whose lives were in shambles, who had no direction, who were defiant and unfinished. God wanted them still, in the exact moment when He called.
When God calls, He means now. Not eight months down the road once you’ve finished adjusting your schedule, shuffling your priorities, deciding how you want to present yourself and eventually, talking yourself out of doing it in the first place.
Let me tell you, readers, I do not have everything together. Just today, I’ve been writing this amidst tears of exhaustion and feelings of unworthiness. But in the moments when I felt how Peter must have felt in the safe confines of the boat, content in sitting in complacency, that’s when I heard Jesus still softly whispering, Obey.
And I have to continually remind myself that even though life is full of unknowns and what-ifs right now, God still wants to do amazing things – and I get to play a part in that, despite whatever is in me screaming, you’re not ready.
For eight months, I thought this thing – The Dwelling Place – had to be perfect from the beginning, flawless before I let anyone see. But I realized that’s not how God works – not how He works out His plan and not how He works in us.
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.”
He knows I’m a mess, and He knows how much of a mess I’ll be tomorrow. But He still includes me, still wants me, still sees beauty in me because I have been made new by Christ. In light of that, how can I ignore His call?
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
–2 John 1:6
My hope is that this community will grow as I grow, not for my own recognition but for the sake of God’s love and truth. I hope you choose to grow with us, and more importantly, I hope you choose to earnestly seek out what obedience means in your life right now.
Today, I am taking a step.